Graduate Student Startup Fund

Have you considered commercializing your graduate research? Maybe starting a company of your own?!

First place prize: $20,000
Second place prize: $10,000
Third place prize: $5,000

Apply for the Graduate Student Startup Fund for a chance to win up to $20,000 and take your research to the next level. This funding is possible through the generosity of Sam Pasupalak, a successful Velocity founder and alum.

Sam co-founded an artificial intelligence (AI) company, Maluuba, which focused on teaching machines to think, reason, and communicate. After winning $25K in funding at the Velocity Fund Finals* in 2011, and incubating and launching from the Velocity Incubator in 2012, Maluuba was then acquired by Microsoft in 2017.

Sam has recognized how crucial Velocity was in his success and wants to give back and help more University of Waterloo students make it big.

*Now an investment competition called Velocity Fund Pitch Competition


Browse past winners


(The boring but important stuff)


  • Your team must have at least one co-founder who is currently, or has been in the last 12 months, a University of Waterloo graduate student or postdoc who owns (or is anticipated to own) at least 20% of the company
  • You are not eligible to apply if your company (if already incorporated) has received more than $100,000 in funding (e.g., investment, convertible debt, equity, grants). Note this does not include personal scholarship funding (e.g. Canada Graduate Scholarship)
  • Startup ideas must be related to your research
(Acing your application)

Tips for your application

Given how many applications we receive, we’d love if you kept your application short and sweet. We recommend using bullet points instead of full sentences and big paragraphs.

You’re an expert in your field, but we are not. We recommend that you have someone else (who doesn’t know much about what you’re working on) review your application before you hit that ‘submit’ button.

(Add these to your calendar asap)

Important Dates

The competition runs once a year.

Applications open: February 24, 2020
Applications close: March 20, 2020

Shoot Carly an email at if you have any questions.

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